Make-It Monday: Getting Started

bitmoji_goalsDuring the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the pleasure of getting to know one martial arts friend a little better and meet his wife. I felt a lot of different things when they told me they read my blog and it’s been helpful for their children who are both pen warriors.

Weird, honoured, and shocked were some of those feelings.

It was also a reminder that writing can have lasting affects on others. The further one goes on this path, the greater the affect on a larger scale.

I thought that a post on getting started is in order. It’s a post for those who enjoy writing and are trying to take that first next step towards becoming more serious about it.

Now, I can’t remember how I first found out about the first book related thing I went to in Ottawa. It was a book signing for an anthology *I think*. It’s a bit hazy as it was around 5 years ago. I know Marie Bilodeau, Geoff Gander, and Hayden Trenholm were there. They were some of the first writers I met in Ottawa. Or maybe I went to something else and met Marie there and she told me about it. Perhaps the Small Press Fair.

Actually, I think that’s what happened? Anyway, around the same time, I met several people who were going to several writing related events and I just kind of started showing up to things and while there found out about more things.

Those things included:

1. The Small Press Fair

2. Book Signings

3. Conventions including Can-Con, Ad Astra, and several others I haven’t been to yet.

4. Prose in the Park (Ottawa’s version of Word on the Street)

5. Ottawa Independent Writers

6. ChiSeries reading series

7. NaNoWriMo

I still go to many of these things, though I’ve been too busy lately and thus a bit too worn down to go to Can-Con this year.

Some other important things about the writer life include self-care and doing anything else that will help you replenish your creative energies. After a long weekend filled with a wedding, old friends, family,  and walking by the water, I was filled with new ideas for new projects and tweaks for those in progress. Stephen King talks about this. He’s been in a band and done a lot of living that helps him have a deep well of ideas to draw on.

I also read a lot of writers craft books. Hooked by Les Edgerton is a good one for the first chapter. The Novel Writers Toolkit by Bob Mayer was also helpful. The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier and Screenplay by Syd Field are fantastic for screenplays.

One thing I do to constantly improve is try to pay attention to whether or not a skill is weak, such as writing dialogue or being descriptive, and I work on improving it. I’ll read craft books on specific skills to learn new techniques to try. It takes a lot to be honest with yourself about your weak areas and some writers don’t ever get there.

At this stage, I’m very interested in checking out The Writer’s Festival.

Now, this particular friend lives in the Peterborough area, so I thought I’d list a few events in the area that may be good starting places:

  1. The Peterborough Writers Facebook Group. I have no idea how active it is, but this would be a place one could ask some questions about the writing scene.
  2. The Literary Tourism page.
  3. Meetup.
  4. The Peterborough branch of the Canadian Authors Association. It’s mentioned in this article on My Kawartha.
  5. The Peterborough Library. A lot of librarians read, but they also write.
  6. Writers Festivals. The Writers Union has a long list of these. The Lakefield Lit Festival is marked as being close to Peterborough.
  7. Colleagues can make a good resource too. Everyone knows someone who writes.
  8. A writing group. I met mine at the Small Press Fair. I feel like it’s good to have an idea of what you need in a writing group before committing though. Some get together and push each other to write every morning. Some gather monthly to offer feedback. Really, they come in a lot of forms. I like my monthly one. We touch base, talk about our goals, and give each other feedback. We have a wide variety of age, political views, and life experiences that I find adds a richness to the experience.

There you have it. I hope this has been worthwhile.

R~

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Warrior Wednesday – Updates

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Natsu Matsuri 2018

It was a soggy day, so the event was moved inside this year. Though it was a little more cozy in the smaller space, it was a success.

My dojo was the opening group of performers and I was leading my portion, which was scary. I can’t recall if I ever heard my sword, or if my heart was simply beating too loud to hear it.

Because we were first up, I got to relax and enjoy most of the day. The booming drums of Oto-wa Taiko were even more amazing than usual. The dancing was more difficult to participate in as it became very challenging to figure out who actually knew the dance you were supposed to follow along with. I didn’t buy much for food as most items had ingredients I couldn’t have or all Japanese labels where I couldn’t tell what I might be eating.

Training in July

I always struggle with martial arts in July. It gets too warm for me in the dojo. I dehydrate easily during this month. I always look forward to the fall when it cools down, so I can train more. I wish they’d get an air conditioner, but the people who own our practice space love the over 40 Celsius days it seems.

Taekwondo

I’m looking forward to joining taekwondo. I haven’t set a time for it yet. I was originally thinking half way through August, but that might not be financially reasonable and perhaps I should wait until half way through September. Why half way through? They have a 2-week deal where starting is discounted and comes with an outfit.
It makes sense to me to have my payment schedule close to the beginning of the month, though if I think about it more, I may think it better to have it in the other half of the month. I’ll be combing through the finances soon to see what is best. Many of my current payments are twice a month, so it might not matter.

Yes, I just said I’m struggling with the training I have now and it probably seems silly to be adding more on top, but I believe the cardio aspects of tkd and the different muscle groups used will help me handle more.

Battle on the Home Front

I’m still decluttering and expect I will be fore quite some time yet, but it’s getting better. I now have a pretty nice space in my bedroom for all things music. It looks so slick. I’ll post pictures soon 🙂

Work

I’m starting a new position on Monday. There is much I can’t talk about related to it for security reasons, but I’m not one to spend my free time droning on about work. I’m really excited about it and much of my time this week is being spent getting organized and also changing over from the #writerslife schedule to a regular working schedule.

With gratitude,
R~

Merry Monday – Another Busy Weekend

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My weekend was packed with learning, socializing, and martial arts. On Friday and Saturday, I attended Can-Con 2017. I had a fantastic time seeing old friends and made a few new ones. There were many panels over the weekend and I learned a lot of things such as that beer was literally a chunk-filled “smoothie” they used straws to drink in order to avoid the chunks at one point in history. Gross. The earliest was made in China, not Egypt as many think. To learn more about beer, check out Black Creek Brewery. Oh, apparently it’s also unclear whether or not beer or bread came first.

I’ve come out of the weekend with a list of Canadian Horror films I should check out, a list of absurdist UK comedies to watch, some screenwriting facts that I haven’t heard at school, some new perceptions about the world as it may be for others, some books to read, and a new appreciation for George A. Romero. I also enjoyed a lot of laughter with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I even have a few story ideas to file away for later, which is always a good thing.

The panel I was on didn’t have a large audience, but we had fun and I have some strange stories to post in my flash fiction area later this week.

Thank you to the organizers. This con has grown a lot and I always enjoy going. It gets better every year.

On Sunday, I was part of the Ottawa Welcomes the World event held at the Horticulture building at Lansdowne, which is next to Jack Astor’s if anyone ever needs to find it. My dojo demonstrated kata and other techniques in front of a large crowd of people. I was a bit nervous as I haven’t been making practices lately with homework and such, but it went well and we had a captive audience.

I have a few story ideas to file away for later, which is always a good thing.

Many drinks were had over the course of the weekend and a nap was needed when I got home.

I felt like I had to stay up late to find out about the strike. I also needed to relax after the busy weekend, so I tried a few TV shows. I didn’t find anything I really liked and I ended up watching Death Note while mending a pair of comfy pants. I found the romantic subplot a little hurried and twisted, but otherwise I enjoyed the story. It was fluffy enough that I didn’t have to think much, which is good after a weekend filled with learning and emotional stress, but had enough complexity that I wasn’t bored. I could tell it was an anime plot based on the backstory of ‘L’ though. There were a lot of plot twists that had me captivated.

It turned out that I didn’t need to stay up late to find out. As of 9PM, the strike was on. What a sad way to end an otherwise wonderful weekend. That’s life sometimes though.

I slept in this morning to recover from Can-Con. Despite the unfortunate situation, the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.

It’s time to rustle up some food and then head to class to meet with my peers to figure out what to do about it.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Frisky Friday – The Silly Immune System

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Apparently, it’s really common to feel frisky when you have a cold. It seems like the most ridiculous time. I mean, not only are you feeling miserable, who wants to get it on with someone who’s nose resembles a chaos demon? Nonetheless, apparently orgasms can help boost the immune system and get you feeling better sooner. Check out this article for more information on this phenomenon. There’s also a sub-reddit on the subject, of course. There may have even been a Friend’s episode about it.

Writing Update

I’m off to Can-Con 2017 this weekend. I’ll be a panelist for the Spam Meet panel Saturday evening. I’m going to take some relaxation/homework time Saturday morning to hopefully kill the last of my cold by getting some much needed rest. Otherwise, I can be either found enjoying libations or taking in a panel myself.

It’s been a rather emotional week with the strike happening. We’ve also been working at an accelerated pace in some areas to ensure we can do as much as possible while the strike is going on. That’s been both exhilarating and exhausting.

Today was a sad day though. Hearing my teachers speak of the strike all week has been sad. They’re working hard to make sure we’ll be OK despite the situation and I think that says a lot about how much they care about us and our futures.

Well, I have to do a revision for my feature film treatment before the weekend ends, so I better get to it.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Merry Monday – When September Ends

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The annual iaido and jodo seminar happened this weekend. We had a few less people than last year, but those who came learned quite a bit. We split into three groups and the instructors rotated between us. I loved it because we all received feedback from different teachers who may be saying similar things to our own, but they say it in a different way than our own does and sometimes that’s all you need for a eureka moment. I didn’t have a eureka moment this time around, but I did figure out that I can do more at home than just practicing the kata. It’s hard to swing weapons around in my condo, but I can practice the lower body pieces once I make space to. So, that means some cleaning needs to happen, which I want to do anyway. I might make up my own exercises that could be kihon based on pieces from each kata. Of course, I can practice basic cutting too, but they were stressing that we aren’t doing enough to ensure our legs are strong, so I think that, my neck, and some core would be best to focus on.

I did have some trouble with my knees. I hope that won’t become a regular thing. I need to do more before I attempt Nidan grade again. I suspect that will come quick with it being the first weekend in December as we’re already in October.

There were a lot of good conversations and some tasty drinks, though I wasn’t fond of the cider I had on Friday as the acid in it gave me heartburn and other fun issues that made me late on Saturday. I also had missed one assignment and needed to squeeze that in despite a slight hangover.

Ah well, everything came together and it was great to see my martial arts pals!

Guid cheerio the nou,

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Seminar Planning

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Sometimes battle looks more like fighting with a computer in this modern age.

Especially when making preparations for the yearly seminar.

Last year’s form was found, but it was not in the format I needed in order to edit it. I tried to copy and paste, but it wouldn’t copy the information.

Luckily for me, I’m going back to school this year and one of the software packages we use is the Adobe suite, so I was able to convert last year’s file to a word document and update it with this year’s particulars.

I have the main restaurant booked. I just need to book the Friday night whoever’s in town place. My first choice looks like it probably won’t work, which is annoying. There are some new places even closer to home for several of us, so perhaps they will be the place to go. I have menu questions to ask for myself and to see if they can accommodate the smaller group that usually comes out on the Friday night. At least I had no issues booking the large group for Saturday’s dinner.

There’s still insurance outstanding, but we’re proceeding anyway and hoping it doesn’t blow up in our faces. It’s coming. We just have a time of year that happens to be when renewal happens, so we have this same problem every year.

A lot of little things go into a seminar. This one doesn’t have a grading or depend on foreign sensei, so it’s a lot easier, but there are still things that make it challenging to plan and execute.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been working on today. Maybe I’ll check out this other place tonight as I need to go do some errands anyway.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Guelph Spring Seminar 2017

The 2017 Sei Do Kai Spring Iaido and Jodo Seminar had a slightly different feel for me this year. I think this was because some of my friends weren’t there and also because I was challenging for ikkyu rank in jodo. Normally, I just do iaido and don’t have a grading to think about, so the whole weekend is just learning and fun. It was hectic trying to fit in both arts, but it I felt it important to do so.

After checking in, I spent some time fighting with the Wi-Fi, which was something new this year. The page was automatically scrolling me down to the portion for people who already had logins rather than letting me register. Then it was telling me I needed an app and it was a mess. I got it working, but missed a chance to play with a Nintendo Switch. The Wi-Fi was a pain in the butt as it kept cutting out and we had to login again when it did that. Not sure why they couldn’t just let it work the whole time.

I had everything I needed with me this year, so I had no need to go to the store for provisions. My suite was 3.2 and I wasn’t far from any of the party areas. There’s a strangely textured wall in the suites. I haven’t figured out its purpose. Maybe it’s just supposed to look artful. The beds, as usual, felt about as soft as these walls.

IMG_20170522_094216There was also a light-switch in the one bathroom that was the colour of poop. Sometimes I wonder who makes these design choices.

Friday was spent doing a mixture of socializing and helping out before heading off to the Shakespeare Arms. Their new gluten free menu is delicious. I found the curry to be the best I’ve had in a long time. Also, never has a Somersby hit the spot so well after running around and working up a thirst.

Day 1 officially began at 8:30 A.M., but we had to wake up and eat before then. We didn’t really start until about 10:00 A.M. as there were announcements and other formalities to attend to first like T-shirts. Lunch time had me running back to the dorms to make myself a grilled cheese, which was delicious. A dojo mate accompanied me. I ate much better this year. I grabbed my auction items, two anthologies, and placed them on the table. I mainly did jodo except for the free practice period where myself and a dojo mate snuck over to the iaido gym to get some sword swinging in. It was a short time, but my quads felt it the next day. We actually got to film each other to help us see where our problems are and I found that really useful. Our jodo sensei were Mansfield and Buxton from the UK and I thoroughly enjoyed their teachings. We also got to watch Mansfield Sensei take on an 8th Dan from Japan and he was dripping sweat by the end. We learned kata 11, which is one of the longest budo kata I’ve seen. There are many pieces to it and it was fun. The day went until around 6:00 PM, but some of us left early rather than doing another free practice session.

After showering, I cooked myself a hamburger and brought it and salad down to the auction where I ended up winning large sake cups and a hat. A friend also gifted me a beautiful coffee mug. I didn’t drink much because I had to grade the next day. There were some shenanigans at the auction that had everyone at my table laughing. Someone was encouraging one person to bid on everything. From across the room. We though the heckler may have been drunk after having basically moonshine in sake form, so someone nearby told him to sit on his hands to prevent himself from bidding on things he didn’t actually want. I had a taste of that booze and it was potent stuff.

Day 2 had us start at 9:00 A.M., which was marginally better. We trained hard all day and were paired up for grading, which began at 5:00 P.M. I took my lunch down to the Peterborough group’s room and ate with friends. They accused me of being a traitor for taking up jo, but it was all in good fun. Hopefully, I can visit them in the summer sometime.

Grading began around 5:00 P.M. The rules were told to us while we were lined up and waited to begin. I and my partner were in the first group and ended up right in front of the judges’ table. Talk about extra pressure! I was quickly able to forget about them and only focus on my partner, which was important as he was trying to hit me with wooden weapons. After switching sides, while my partner defending against my attacks, I realized I couldn’t remember if I had done the right thing at all, but I held it together because I was able to tell myself what was done was done. Of course, adjustments were made on the fly and some of the formalities were skipped, which left us fearful that we had failed to do things like not turn our backs to the judges. Then we were ushered to the back of the room, which was the furthest point from the door.

Originally, my dojo mate and I were planning on leaving shortly after our own gradings, but we didn’t have that option. As I sat there though, I realized that this was an extra special occasion and we were fortunate to be seeing the high level gradings. Our jodo sensei, iaido sensei, and several others we knew were challenging as well. Grading took us to around 8:00 P.M. and we went back to the dorms to change without bothering to shower. I baked my pizza and got my booze and games and headed down to the potluck where I learned that I had passed. I’m short, so that’s why it’s at a funny angle. I’m not 2 apples high, nor do I have hairy feet as some may have suggested, but it was good I didn’t have more to drink anyway.

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Celebrations were in order and I had much rum. As drinking didn’t begin until 9:00 P.M., it’s probably no wonder that I was up until around 3:00 A.M. I slept in some the following day, which meant I didn’t get a lot of iaido practice in, but I was okay with that. We left shortly after lunch.

On the way home from Guelph, we were graced with beautiful blue skies.

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The thing I loved most about the UK sensei was their focus on cooperating with our partners and having fun. The message was why do anything that isn’t fun. I felt like this is what the grading focus should often be on rather than a slew of corrections right before challenging a grading. This attitude helped me stay calm despite being in the pair right next to the judges table.

I picked up a few aha moments while practicing iaido and I’m looking forward to working on both arts at home and in the dojo.

I didn’t make it to the arboretum. Some year I hope to have the time and energy to check it out.

My thread came while I was gone, so I can get working on my other goals now. Since today was spent mainly on cleaning while the painters were painting my door, I haven’t gotten much done yet this week, but there are still two days left. I’m looking forward to getting back to my writing.

Salut,
R~